Vacation Motivation


We just came back from a week-long family vacation at the beach in North Carolina.  I gotta say, nothing motivates me to save more and cut expenses further than having to go back to work after being away from the 9 to 5 grind for even a short period of time.  Do you get a little bit depressed while still on your vacation, when you realize that there’s only a couple of days of freedom left?  I do every single time.

When we leave town, I make it a point to completely unplug from work and don’t check work-related messages .  While it does help to disconnect and relax it also makes the first Monday at work that much more of a pain, with countless emails and voice mails waiting to greet me first thing in the morning.  Sitting there in front of the 19” monitor in my gray walled cubicle under the fluorescent lights doing injustice to my freshly tanned skin I’m busy devising FI escape plans while robotically answering emails piled up in Outlook.

It usually takes me the whole week to get back into the daily routine.  I hate the word “routine” but that’s probably the best description of what most of us do while having to work for a living.

My Monday through Friday goes something like this…  Get up around 7AM, shower, pack lunch, get my son ready for daycare, drive to drop him off, try not to be visibly upset while he is waving goodbye sad and unable to understand why his dad is leaving him again, drive 30 minutes to work dealing with a bunch of a-holes on the road (everyone else but me of course), sit in my cubicle for 4 hours doing work that I’m good at but which is mostly boring and meaningless to me, eat lunch at my desk, go for a walk to break up the day and get some exercise, sit and work for another 4 hours, get in my car and drive home in traffic, feed and play with my son for 2 hours until he goes to bed, eat dinner with my wife, work out Tuesday and Thursday, maybe catch a show on TV or play on the computer (blogs, news, finances) and then go to bed to start it all over again in the morning.

I’ve been doing this Monday through Friday for the past 12 years – minus the kid part which started last year.  If we wanted to live like the majority of people out there I would need to continue following pretty much the same weekday schedule for another 30 years before we are able to change up the routine.

Problem is, I am ready to stop the routine now.

I am approaching what’s commonly viewed as the midlife crisis years and I feel like my newly found passion for Financial Independence is my own flavor of this stage.  I’m supposed to want a new Corvette and a $20K Harley Davidson motorcycle.  Instead, I recently sold my sports car to get a used Mini Cooper and ride a $2K antique-plated Honda Nighthawk.  Traditional midlife crisis seems to be defined by wanting more stuff to “shake things up”, but I find myself wanting less… a lot less.

I sold a lot of the useless junk cluttering up our house during this past year on Craigslist.  I would like to downsize to a smaller home but at this point it’s not practical so I’m doing the second best – trying to pay off the mortgage as fast as we can.  If all goes well I hope to not have a mortgage payment in less than 3 years from now.  This will open other opportunities, like getting a job closer to home even if it pays less so we can further downsize to a 1 car household.  I’d love to ride a bicycle to work but my current 20 mile one way commute is less than ideal for biking.  With lower expenses, my wife will be able to quit her office job and stay home with the kids if we have another baby.  It’s something that she’d want to do and it makes sense considering the high daycare costs in our area.

It’s no coincidence that a lot of the FI bloggers are in their 30s and 40s.  Most of them had a chance to work for a decade or more and realize how short life is and how there’s more to it than the same daily routine of earning money to pay for the high consumption lifestyle well into one’s 60’s.

I think we all need to take more vacations to step out of the daily grind to periodically reassess where we are now, where we want to be and the plan for getting there.  Vacation motivation seems like a really good method of keeping the FI fire burning throughout the year!

…Look at that, today is pay day so it’s time to make another principal only mortgage payment, SEP/401K/Roth contribution, brokerage account transfer…

*As I was writing the description of my typical work day, the song that kept playing in my head was “Every Day is Exactly the Same” by Nine Inch Nails.  Does this sound familiar?

I believe I can see the future
Cause I repeat the same routine
I think I used to have a purpose
But then again
That might have been a dream
I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
I just do what I’ve been told
I really don’t want them to come around
Oh, no
Every day is exactly the same
Every day is exactly the same
There is no love here and there is no pain
Every day is exactly the same




4 thoughts on “Vacation Motivation

  1. When I was working I used to plan my next vacation before I would even take the upcoming vacation just so I had something to look forward to. It’s not as necessary these days, but even though my life now is really great (no corporate BS), I still do have that urge to get away. Hopefully this winter we’ll take a trip just to change up the routine a bit.

  2. Ha, yeh we pretty much do the same. Once there’s couple of days left and the reality starts to set in that it’s almost time to go back to work, everyone starts talking about the next trip. We rented a house with two other couples on this beach trip and I got an email first thing Monday morning talking about the next getaway. No one likes the routine!

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